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Kauaeranga Valley Road to be sealed to DOC Visitor Centre

13 March 2018

Kauaeranga Valley Road outside Thames is to be sealed all the way to the Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Centre, in a joint project between DOC and our Council.

Kauaeranga Valley Road. Section to be sealed March 2018

(Photo: The unsealed portion of the Kauaeranga Valley Rd deters some visitors)

Work began on the 2.2km section of road last week and is planned for completion by mid-May.

Portions of the road will be reduced to one lane during some periods of work. Stop-go traffic management at these times will be in place to keep motorists and work crews safe.

The project’s total cost is approximately $1M. This cost is being shared according to each organisation’s area of responsibility: the 1.6km from the end of the existing seal is Council road and the remaining 600m to the Visitor Centre is DOC road.

As well as 2.2km of road to be sealed, drainage will be improved and the road surface widened and strengthened.

In order to minimise public inconvenience and to ensure sealing of the road is completed during favourable weather and ground conditions, the project length will be broken into three sections, with contractors working their way from the end of the road back toward Thames.

We’ve been working with DOC on this project since 2015 when TCDC funding was secured through the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan and NZ Transport Agency investment (48% subsidy) through the National Land Transport Processes. Funding of DOC's share of costs was recently confirmed following approval of their detailed business case.

“Both organisations have had to get many ducks in a row to finally get to this point of commencing the road improvement works with the forecast road safety and economic benefits for the area soon to be realised,” says Matt Busch, our Council’s Roading Manager.

The Kauaeranga Valley is a popular destination for local, New Zealand and International visitors.  The numerous swimming holes, campsites and the iconic Pinnacles walk are the main drawcards.  The Visitor Centre receives more than 30,000 visitors a year, a figure which is rising annually.

DOC estimates that the Pinnacles has more than 50,000 visitors each year.  The largest hut in New Zealand (sleeps 80) is at the Pinnacles and is very popular.

It is often full over the summer months and is also well used in winter by school groups and New Zealanders.

The Kauaeranga Valley Road has always had maintenance issues and this unsealed stretch presents a barrier to visitors. 

"Sealing of the road as far as the Visitor Centre will make the centre and its facilities accessible to more people (including drivers of rental vehicles whose insurance does not cover travel on unsealed roads) and much improved road safety for those users," says Wendy Hillerich, the Visitor Centre's Supervisor.

"The Department of Conservation is committed to improvements in the valley and making it user friendly and safe. It welcomes this sealing," she says.

The contract for the physical work was awarded to Schick Civil Construction last week, with WSP Opus contracted to complete the initial investigation and design phases during 2017 and now to provide the physical works contract management services.

Kauaeranga DOC Visitor Centre - March 2018

(Photo: DOC's Kauaeranga Visitor Centre has interpretation of the valley's kauri logging history and the helpful DOC staff can advise visitors of the suitability of tracks for different fitness levels.)